Episode 4

Leopold Bloom relishes his food and in particular, is partial to offal, with kidneys being his favorite and he thinks about having some for breakfast. He is beginning to feel hungry as he moves around the kitchen of his home at 7 Eccles Street. Outside it is a lovely summer’s morning. He places the kettle on the red coals and fixes bread and butter on the tray for his wife Molly. He talks to the cat and gives it some of the freshly delivered milk. He watches her lap it from the saucer and wonders if it is true, that if you cut cat’s whiskers, it will no longer hunt mice. He decides to walk to Dlugacz’s butcher for a pork kidney. He calls out to Molly who is still asleep and when she turns he hears the jingling sound of the old brass bed. Bloom thinks the bed came from Gibraltar where Molly grew up with her father in the army. Major Tweedy would have driven a hard bargain and he was an astute collector of stamps. Bloom takes his hat from the crowded hall-stand and checks underneath the leather band where he hides a white card. He puts the door on the latch as his key is upstairs and he does not want to disturb Molly. He checks that his charm, a potato, is in his pocket. The morning is sunny and he is aware that dressed in black, he will be too hot, but it would be inappropriate to wear a light suit to the funeral. In the warmth he imagines the exotic east and the possibility of staying a day ahead of the sun by moving around the world. He amuses himself with Arthur Griffith’s story, referring to the headline in the nationalist newspaper, describing ‘home-rule’ as the sun rising in the northwest. He passes a Public House and greets O’Rourke, the proprietor, who watches a young lad, up from the country, mop the floor. He thinks about how cleverly Simon Dedalus, Stephen’s father, mimics O’Rourke expounding on world affairs. He walks past St. Joseph’s national school and thinks about the clamor of voices learning geography and that Slieve Bloom is a mountain with his name. At the butcher’s shop there is one kidney left in the window. A woman buys sausages and he eyes her ample hips and her rough washer-woman hands. He waits his turn and scans an advertisement, for a farm in Tiberius, on the paper on the counter. He quickly orders the kidney and hurries outside, hoping to enjoy a view of the woman’s fleshy limbs as she walks ahead of him, but she has already gone. His reads about the options to invest in orange groves and thinks olives would be better as they require less water. He introduced Molly to the taste of olives. Citron oranges have a lovely smell and come all the way from Gibraltor. A dark cloud covers over the sun and Bloom’s thoughts become desolate. He thinks about the Dead Sea with the water too heavy to be stirred by the wind. An area that gave birth to the oldest people is now barren and grey and the people wander the earth. Bloom hurries home to his breakfast and Molly’s warm flesh. The postman has delivered two letters and a card. A letter addressed to Molly, Mrs Marion, and a card from their daughter Milly, who has moved to Mullingar. He lifts the blind in the bedroom and sees Molly tuck the letter under the pillow. He dallies, moving her clothes onto the bed. He goes downstairs and the kettle is boiling so he makes the tea. He gives the cat the bloody wrapping and tosses the kidney into the frying pan with butter and pepper. He settles down the read his own letter from Milly written on her fifteenth birthday. He drinks his tea from an imitation crown Derby porcelain moustache cup that she gave him. Memories flood back of her growing up. He turns the kidney and brings a tray carefully arranged with bread and butter upstairs to Molly. She props herself up in bed and he looks down at her full breasts. He notices the torn envelope pushed under the pillow. Molly pours her tea and in reply to Bloom’s question says the letter is from Blazes Boylan, who will bring the concert program, in the afternoon. He opens the window to clear the stale smell of incense. Molly wants to know the time of Paddy Dignam’s funeral as she points towards the book, she has just finished reading, by Paul de Kock. She would like Bloom to get another by the same author and she searches for a word with a hairpin asking Bloom to explain ‘metempsychosis’. Distracted by Boylan’s letter he fumbles through some complex ideas about the soul and reincarnation. The picture, over the bed, is of a naked nymph, this makes him think of the Greeks, he compounds his explanation with references to antiquity. Suddenly, Molly interrupts, she smells the kidney burning downstairs. He puts the book in his coat pocket and races down to rescue his breakfast. He plates the kidney and cuts himself some bread. He gives the burned bit to the cat and bites into the perfectly cooked meat. He returns to reading Milly’s letter, who is enjoying the photo business in Mullingar, has made friends with Bannon, a student, and has celebrated her first birthday away from home. Bloom thinks of Rudy, their son, who died as an infant eleven years earlier. A flood of fond memories of his daughter growing up makes him decide to visit her in Mullingar. Milly writes that the student sings Boylan’s favourite song, ‘Seaside Girls’. Bloom accepts the inevitability of her first sexual experience. He also knows with a sinking heart that there is nothing he can do to prevent Molly’s afternoon rendezvous with Boylan. The cat has finished washing herself and waits at the door. Bloom decides to avoid going back upstairs and to use the outside toilet. He takes a copy of Photo Titbits from a drawer and as he opens the door the cat runs upstairs to Molly. In the garden he examines the spearmint growing near a wall, the whole garden would benefit from some manure. He contemplates composting and mulching options in order to grow lettuce and peas. He is, however, a bit wary of nature having been recently stung by a bee. He tries to remember where he put his hat as he was distracted, on his return from the butchers, by the letters when he came through the hall door. Perhaps he will have time for a bath in Tara Street before the funeral. He leaves the door open and undoes his trousers carefully. He opens Photo Titbits and reads a story as he relieves himself. The magazine pays quite well, he could write about Mr. and Mrs. Bloom, he begins to compose a story. Images of Molly dancing fill his mind and he remembers her asking questions about Boylan. Once he made some notes of Molly’s conversation as he watched her dress. He wipes himself with some torn off pages then buttons his trousers and lifts his braces. Outside in the light he carefully checks there are no marks on his black suit. He must confirm the time of the funeral. The bells of St George’s church mark out the hour. Sadly, Dignam is dead.

Ulysses comprises 18 EPISODES June 16th 1904 Dublin